By David Monti and Chris Lotsbom, @d9monti and @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
BOSTON (01-Mar) — Running a savvy race off of a slow early pace, Shannon Rowbury won her second national indoor title in as many days, winning the two-mile on the final day of the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships here at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Facility at Roxbury Community College.
Rowbury, who won the mile yesterday, stayed tucked in the big pack of 17 women during the early stages of the race, trying to save energy. Suffering from a cold, she knew she only had so much lung power for the final laps.
“I’ve been having a cold since Birmingham (Feb. 21), before Birmingham,” Rowbury told reporters. “Last night I was pretty stuffed-up in my nose. This morning, not so great. Warming up, I felt kind of flat. I knew it was going to be tough out there.”
The pack went through the first mile in a sluggish 5:08.5 led by New Balance’s Liz Costello. But just moment’s later, Rowbury’s Nike Oregon Project teammate, Jordan Hasay, came up from the field, went into the lead and picked up the pace. Costello followed, as did Brooks Beasts’ Amanda Mergaert and Rowbury, who sensed that the real race was beginning.
“I was set to share the lead with Jordan at the end,” Rowbury explained. “She just kept accelerating and accelerating, so I owe a lot to her for the race turning out so well for me.”
Hasay hit the 1 & ¾ mark in 8:41.0, with Rowbury on her tail, and the two women quickly left the field behind them. Rowbury waited for the final lap where she came on the outside of Hasay on the backstretch, then swung around her teammate at the top of the homestretch. Hasay, a 10,000m runner, simply couldn’t match Rowbury’s superior speed; she ran the last lap in 30.6 seconds. Hasay finished second in 9:44.69.
“Honestly, second for me today was going to be winning because she is running so well right now,” Hasay said of Rowbury. “Obviously she’s undefeated in the U.S. this year. I just tried to pretend it was a workout, I’m lucky enough that she is my training partner.”
With her victory today, Rowbury becomes the fifth American woman to win the mile and two mile (or 1500m and 3000m) at the same national indoor championships, joining Jenny Simpson, Regina Jacobs, Jan Merill and Francie Larrieu.
AMERICAN 600M RECORD FOR LOXSOM; WILSON FALLS
In the men’s 600m, former Penn State star Casimir Loxsom was a man on a mission. Running on the same track where he set records in high school, Loxsom rocketed away from the field from the gun, and blasted to a solo victory in 1:15.33, breaking his own American record and clocking the #4 mark of all time.
“It feels awesome,” said Loxsom after winning his first national title. “I think the title means a lot more than the time to me. I think on a perfect day with no rounds, I could take a shot at the world record. We’ll look at that in coming years.”
Alysia Montano was the surprise winner of the 600m national crown, the first indoor title of her career. Only six months after giving birth to her baby girl Linnea, Montano toed the line here in what was her third race since becoming a mother last August.
From the gun, Montano and pre-race favorite Ajee’ Wilson took their routine positions up front, hitting the 200 meters within a step of one another. It was 50 meters later that the race would change dramatically, with Wilson falling to the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center’s blue track with her hopes of a national crown dashed.
Hit from behind, fellow competitor Kendra Chambers’s momentum carried her forward mid-stride, accidentally clipping Wilson’s heels. Wilson, Chambers, and Bethany Praska came crashing down to the track surface together, all the while Montano increased her lead out front.
“It’s part of racing,” said a visibly dejected Wilson. She had only been tripped once prior in her career, back when she was 9-years-old. “I was ready to run, ready to compete. Stuff happens, things happen. You jut got to get up, brush it off and keep going.”
Wilson would get up and finish the race last in 1:39.39, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd. Chambers would also finish, a gruesome spike wound on the inside of her thigh serving as a battle scar from these Championships.
Up front, the race belonged to Montano, who extended her lead over Phoebe Wright in the final lap. Breaking the tape in 1:26.59, Montano was the winner by more than a second.
“I was hoping, that it would be Ajee’ and I going at it,” Montano told reporters. “It was really disappointing to hear the crash. I definitely had the feeling that it was a game-changer. I looked up [at the big screen] and didn’t see the blue uniform. To be honest, I was like, oh well.”
1000M WINS FOR ANDREWS AND WALLACE
It took a quick surge and even faster kick for Robby Andrews to claim his first U.S. Indoor title, winning the 1000m here in 2:21.19. The 23-year-old from Manalapan, N.J., felt right in his comfort zone striking in the race’s final 100 meters off of a slow early pace, powering by New Jersey/New York Track Club teammates Kyle Merber and Mike Rutt.
“That’s how I like it,” said Andrews of the slow start with a fast finish. “If they’re going to let me get out front, that’s what I’m going to do. You know, I got a little lucky at the end, but I think I timed it just right.”
Andrews adds a national indoor title to his already impressive resume, which includes a gold medal from the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships (800m) and a bronze from the 2010 IAAF World Junior Championships 800m.
In the women’s 5-lap race, the look on Lauren Wallace’s face after she crossed the finish line was one of shock and awe. Moments before television cameras caught Wallace’s reaction, the 26-year-old had held her ground in the inside lane while three competitors did their absolute hardest to catch the Oiselle-sponsored athlete.
Before these Championships, Wallace worked on not swinging wide around the banked corners, knowing the closer to the rail she was, the better her finish would be. She executed her strategy to perfection, gaining an ever so slight advantage coming down the final straightaway. She edged Treniere Moser and Stephanie Brown by 2/10ths of a second in 2:40.42, claiming her first national title.
“Last night when I was going over my race plan, I just decided to stay comfortable in lane one. I knew there would be a gap opening up. I just too advantage of the gap, just really gave it my all the last 50 meters.”
CENTRO MASTERS THE MILE
Patience and experience was a virtue for Matthew Centrowitz in the men’s mile. The 13-man field was so tightly bunched that competitors couldn’t help but exchange elbows and shoves, all the while Centrowitz sat calm and collected mid-pack.
“There was more elbowing than there was actual forward running!” described Nike Oregon Track Club’s Pat Casey with a laugh. “It was chaos. I mean, I think we all knew it was going to be something like that.”
Aware that the race was going to be physical and a chess match, Centrowitz’s strategy was to wait until three laps remained before making any bold moves. As Casey and Ben Blankenship did a majority of the front running, Centrowitz sat comfortably behind. Striking with 400 to go, the University of Oregon alum took the pole and never looked back.
Celebrating with outstretched hands, Centrowitz broke the tape in 4:01.40 to secure his first national indoor title.
“Indoor mile/1500m racing is so much harder than outdoors,” said Centrowitz, a gold medal draped around his neck. “That being said, that’s why I like indoor racing. If I can run well tactically indoors –not that it’s a lot easier [outdoors]– but it is easier outdoors, so this is definitely going to give me confidence going into the U.S. Outdoor Championships and the World Championships if I qualify.”